Page 2917 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022

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The initiatives in this budget deliver for Canberrans now and into the future. The ACT government has committed to investing $2.6 billion across health portfolios in 2022-23 and $10 billion across the four years of the forward estimates. Compared to the previous four years, that is an increase of $1.5 billion. So it is a very significant investment. We are talking about around 30 per cent of the ACT budget being committed to the health portfolios.

In this particular budget, there is $250 million of new recurrent funding initiatives and an additional $130 million in capital investment. My remarks today will focus on the recurrent initiatives, where we talk a lot about our significant capital funding. This is, of course, a record investment and reflects the Barr government’s plan to continue delivering world-class health care now, while delivering on our comprehensive plans and vision for the future of the health system, which—and I would reflect on Mr Davis’s comments—have a heavy focus on health care closer to home, delivering more care in the community, keeping people out of hospital as much as possible and keeping them healthy and well, and empowering them to manage their own health care wherever possible. The government’s commitments also reflect our commitment to invest in public health care and boost our nation-leading response to alcohol and other drug services, as well as continuing our response to COVID-19.

We know that COVID-19 has, of course, significantly impacted the nation’s public hospital systems, with referred care driving increased waiting lists across the country. I recognise Ms Castley has drawn out some of those issues here in the ACT, but we are absolutely not unique in having that experience. Indeed we have been on the front foot in boosting our services throughout the pandemic, with that initial successful reboot program delivering record outcomes in 2020-21. This budget builds on those significant investments made over the last couple of budgets, responding to the impact of COVID-19 and building for the future.

Even with the significant barriers that have been faced over the last year with COVID waves, the ACT still delivered the second-highest number of elective surgeries ever, with 14,035 delivered. This is a slight difference to the budget papers, as new numbers come through. This is a credit to our territory-wide surgical services and the work we do with our private partners. This builds on the strong platform and the record 15,324 elective surgeries in the year before. Building on that, we are investing nearly $30 million to deliver more elective surgeries over the coming three years, with the aim of meeting our election commitment of delivering 60,000 through to 2024-25.

The government has also invested to continue and expand the Good Life with osteoArthritis Denmark program, which was a commitment made at the last election that is delivering real results for Canberrans living with osteoarthritis, deferring and in some cases removing the need for significant surgeries.

Last year, the government provided funding to boost endoscopy services at Canberra Hospital in response to the impact of COVID-19 and in advance of our ongoing redevelopment work. This investment and the skill of our team at Canberra Health Services led to real improvements that will be built on over the coming two years, with a $5.7 million injection to boost procedures and reduce waiting times, continuing our work to manage the impact of deferred care caused by the pandemic.

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